Kent Archer Competing in Korea

TADSAD Archery member Melissa Carter recently earned a place in the British team that will compete at the IPC World Archery Championships in Korea during October. Vision-Impaired (VI) archer, Melissa, was kind enough to provide the following account of her progress in archery and how she came to earn her place. I am sure that everyone will join in congratulating her on this fantastic achievement and wishing her good shooting.

For those of you who know little or nothing about VI archery, we have

d a short introduction to the subject, together with links to organisations where you can find out more.

Article by: Melissa Carter.

My name is Melissa Carter, I am 27 years old, visually impaired and I took up archery 7 years ago. I do have a little bit of residual sight; for example I can see the shape of people a couple of meters away, but can't make out facial features. I need things to contrast against their background to recognise shapes so outdoors I stand a chance of seeing the archers who wear white but those in green I will probably miss. However when I am shooting I wear blacked out glasses or a blindfold because internationally that is what we need to wear.

I started attending the British Blind Sport (BBS) nationals after I had been shooting for a couple of years. The first couple of years I won the silver medal in my sight category, but for the last two years I have won the Gold medal for the BBS Indoor and Outdoor National Championships. At the Indoor National Championships in April 2006 I broke the national record for a Double Portsmouth Round in my sight category. In 2006 I also won at both the indoors and the outdoors the most improved score award which shows how quickly I was progressing.

I try to attend as many competitions as I can some of which are specifically for disabled archers but most are able-bodied shoots. I find that all the archers whether able bodied or disabled have been very welcoming. There are not many VI archers so it is great to feel welcome and part of a group of archers when I go and shoot at a completion or coaching session.

In February 2007 I went up to Newcastle for a Paralympic Development Squad evaluation weekend. The result of the evaluation weekend was that once the VI Archery rules have been agreed there will become places on the development squad and when this happens I will be asked to attend squad training sessions. The IPC are starting to include VI archers in some events.

The weekend of 28-29 April 2007 I went to Italy for an international friendly between Italy and Britain, together with my husband, Anthony, who is my spotter and another VI archer and his spotter. There were also 15 archers from Italy. They had two competitions one on the Saturday, where we shot in sight categories and one on the Sunday where we all wore blindfolds to comply with the international rules. I won my category on both days and came second overall (so I beat all but one of the men each day). I really enjoyed this weekend as I was shooting against some VI archers who have been shooting internationally for a while - it was a good start for my international career.

I have now just been selected to attend the IPC World Archery Championships in Korea. I fly out with the rest of the Great Britain team on 30th September this year for a 10-day competition. This is such an honour for me because not only have I reached by dream of shooting for Great Britain, but it is also a world class event which will raise awareness of VI archers - and if we put on a good show, it will hopefully be the start of getting us into the Paralympics. We have just found out that there are seven visually impaired archers attending the competition: Steve Prowse and I from Great Britain, two archers from Italy, two from Belgium and one from America. At the moment because there are only a few VI archers at international level, males and females, recurves and compounds all shoot together in the same category.

I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has assisted me with my archery. Everyone I have shot with has been so welcoming and supportive. They don't treat me as a disabled person they just treat me like any other archer and that is what I love about archery. It is such an inclusive sport, anyone whatever age, gender or disability can take part in it and stand on the same line at a competition and shoot together. Everyone supports each other whatever round they are shooting and that is wonderful to be able to just shoot and enjoy yourself with friends.

To shoot for the British team is about as great an honour as you can get in this sport, but it is not without its problems.

Melissa Carter shooting the Burntwood M2 at Sennocke Archers' Short Metric tournament. Geoff Allen / Ken Bearman.
Melissa and David Carter together at Sennocke Archers' Short Metric tournament. Geoff Allen / Ken Bearman.
Melissa Carter shooting the Burntwood M2 at Sennocke Archers' Short Metric tournament. Geoff Allen / Ken Bearman.

For example it is compulsory to have a second full set of equipment, fully set up and every bit as ready as your first - if there are any problems with your bow, the spare must be ready to shoot immediately, because breaks for equipment failures are not always permitted at international events. It is the wet season in Korea, so top quality waterproofs are essential. When selection for Team GB is as sudden and unexpected as it was for Melissa Carter, there is a lot of expense and preparation to pack into very little time.

Mike Brighton, KAA President, congratulates Melissa and presents her with a cheque for £100 ... Geoff Allen.
... Mark Davis does the same on behalf of the Archery Association for Schools. Geoff Allen.

Although the KAA does not normally provide individual sponsorship, Melissa's case was so exceptional that the committee agreed a contribution of £100, which was presented to her by KAA President, Mike Brighton, at the end of the Sennocke Short Metric on Sunday 23 September. Mark Davis made a similar presentation on behalf of the AAS.

Both organisations wish Melissa good luck and good shooting.